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Mobile data mediation

Ken Denman | July 6, 2010
Mobile operators continue to occupy the ideal position in relation to the end-user. From their central vantage point, operators can collect and accumulate the knowledge that is key to monetising the mobile Internet.

The growth of mobile data services has taken a significant upward jump around the world. Operators are increasingly seeing demand for data services such as personal global positioning system (GPS), social networking, mobile Internet, and location-based services to compete with core voice and messaging traffic.

At present, its a relatively small proportion of consumers who have smart phones which account for a large proportion of data traffic. AT&T reported in December 2009 that three per cent of its customers consumed 40 per cent of its network resources. But smart phones are the fastest growing category among mobile handsets, and so the proportion of consumers demanding data services will increase significantly over the coming years.

Its not just new smart phones which are driving increased consumption either. Many data plans encourage subscribers to use more data on their netbooks or laptops via air cards. Particularly in the North American, European and Asia-Pacific regions, operators heavily promote unlimited all-you-can-eat data plans. For instance, in Europe, incentives include notebooks and netbooks with free mobile broadband. These popular promotions have huge implications: even at 5 GB per month, converting six per cent of the world's PC users to mobile data usage will produce 4,000 petabytes of data traffic per year.

Exponential growth

In order to manage this exponential growth in data, and more importantly, to profit from it, the mobile industry needs to develop sophisticated ways to mediate all the different pieces of data within the mobile eco-system. At Openwave, we define Mobile Data Mediation as the ability to access and integrate multiple sources of mobile data, such as aggregated data activity and browsing history, in order to create valuable insights for mobile Internet organisations, such as advertisers, publishers and applications.

There are some clear ways this can be leveraged. In the past, mobile data analytics tools were used primarily to help operators understand their customers and to better manage data traffic. However, an operators ability to understand mobile browsing habits, coupled with aggregated data activity, can be used as a powerful targeting tool for mobile advertising or for content providers.

Many industry observers believe mobile advertising is set to hit the mainstream. Chetan Sharma consulting conducted a survey which is forecasting a 100 per cent growth in 2010 in the US, while Kelsey Group predicts that the market will be worth US$3.1 billion in 2013, up from US$160 million in 2010. This predicted rise is due to the growth in sophistication of the medium, and also the ability to closely target individual users.

For example, we recently saw a request for proposal (RFP) from a mainstream brand which wanted to identify and target special promotions to expectant mothers. These mothers would be identified using a combination of age, gender, past mobile browsing behaviour and categorisation so the advertising was specific to them.


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